Following Your Anxiety to Beat Procrastination

In my last post I claimed that I had finally “figured out” how to schedule my time, and yes, that was true at the time (about a month ago). But I think I was a little too quick to make that kind of a claim.

Yes, I really did feel like I had my life under control just a month ago, and it felt great. I was productive, waking up early in the mornings, exercising, starting each day intentionally..

But that kind of “ideal” lifestyle gradually evolved into a less ideal one as the days and weeks went by. Hence the lack of new blog posts for a whole month.

The good thing is that I finally told myself tonight that I cannot go to bed until I’ve finished writing a new blog post. So here I am.

It’s actually very late at night, past midnight, but I knew that if I didn’t take action ASAP it’d be difficult for me to make progress on my big life goals. I believe that it’s worth making certain sacrifices (in this case, the amount of sleep I’ll get tonight) if you know you will not regret the results you’ll get from sacrificing some of your comfort. I just wouldn’t do it every day.

Just before I started typing up this blog post, I read a bunch of articles online that talked about time management, productivity, habits, and related topics.

But first, just a sidebar before I talk about what I just read…

It’s actually really frustrating for me right now as I’m typing these words because my thoughts aren’t flowing and it’s like my brain is stuck. It’s like some form of writer’s block, where my sentences are choppy and I wonder how I used to be able to write so much so often and my range of vocabulary words seems so elementary now.

That being said, I will still finish up typing this post because I want to respect myself and my already-made decision to finish this before going to bed. Actually I’m technically already in bed, using a lap desk, leaning against my pillow against the wall, looking forward to finally resting from the long day. (Note – I fell asleep right about here after I wrote this paragraph, so I actually finished writing this the next day.)

Anyway, one thing I thought was insightful and helpful from one of the articles I read was that if you find yourself procrastinating on something and you sense resistance or anxiety about the thing you’re procrastinating on, that’s a good indication that that is the very thing you should do first.

This makes sense to me because if you think about it, who in their right mind would “procrastinate” when it comes to watching their favorite shows? Netflix and YouTube have never struck me as anxiety-inducing, but rather, they have a way of helping us numb away the scary “real” things that we should actually be working on. 

But after that numbingly wonderful Miranda Sings video is finished, you’re back to square one: overwhelming huge mountain of intimidating task giving you anxiety and way more stress than you need (not that you ever “need” stress).

Let’s look at it from the other side: you’re about to procrastinate by doing something that seems productive such as wiping down your kitchen counters (why not), or taking some papers out to the recycling bin to help you “declutter” and “organize.”

So you proceed to “take care” of these good, productive tasks, when deep down you know you will still have to face that looming project you’ve been avoiding. Despite all the little tasks you get done, your stress level rises, you’re less happy, you’re more irritable, and any ounce of motivation that was in you leaks out.

Then you continue to look for petty (but oh so productive) tasks. Maybe you even plan out an ambitious schedule for yourself for the next week to complete that project of yours. And then maybe you don’t even follow the well though-out, ambitious, color-coded schedule that you labored so diligently on.

Meanwhile, you’re MORE stressed, MORE unhappy, MORE irritable, and EVEN MORE unmotivated. And this vicious cycle repeats itself over and over again.

Does this sound familiar????

My point is, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed about something that you’ve been putting off doing, that’s probably an indication that it is a very important task or project that needs your undivided attention right away.

So if you’re feeling anxious right now about something you know you have to eventually do, my suggestion is to “follow” your anxiety right to its source and face it head-on. Make that a priority and just start.

In most cases, starting is the hardest part, but once you’re fifteen minutes (i.e. the time it takes to get into the “flow” – I read that somewhere) into it, you’re in the zone, you finally make some progress (however little it may be), and you experience a decrease in stress and irritability, and an increase in happiness and motivation.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. 🙂


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Author: Amy

Amy Lo is a millennial who loves all things personal development and is always trying to improve the quality of her life in the context of battling her clinical depression.

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